By Jon Sharman, Lucy Pasha-Robinson, Katie Forster, The Independent
A police officer has died and two are seriously wounded after a shooting near the Champs-Elysees boulevard in Paris.
ISIS have claimed responsibility for the attack, in which the officer was said to have been killed while in a car stopped at a red light.
A report citing a police source said the person who fired on officers had been killed in turn. Officials said the suspect had previously been flagged as an extremist.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said it had identified the attacker and was looking into whether he acted alone. Raids are ongoing in the city, it was reported.
(A man who shot a Parisian police officer to death on the Champs-Elysees Thursday night was known to French security services for radical Islamist activities. Courtesy of CNN and YouTube)
A police source said the shooting was very probably a “terrorist act”, according to Reuters, while other reports suggested robbery may have been the motive.
The French interior ministry said it was too early to judge the reason behind the attack, but a counter-terrorism inquiry has been opened.
It came just days before French voters were set to go to the polls in the first round of the presidential election.
A witness identified only as Ines told French television station BFM that she heard a shooting and saw a man’s body on the ground, and that the area was quickly evacuated by police.
Another reportedly said they saw a man get out of a car and begin firing a Kalashnikov rifle.
A third witness told local media: “Suddenly everyone got up and started running, we didn’t even have the time to understand what was happening.
“We heard one or two gunshots, it wasn’t a Kalashnikov, it was shot by shot. We ran. I really didn’t understand what was happening, we moved down the street, police told us to move down further.
“I didn’t see if they were two, three or just one assailant. We just ran.
“We heard two gunshots. All the people sat on the terrace got up and ran, chairs were falling over.”
A French police union had announced a second officer had died, but the interior ministry later said this was not the case.
(French President Francois Hollande says that a shooting on the Champs Elysees is suspected to be “of a terrorist nature.” Courtesy of AFP news agency and YouTube)
Paris police spokeswoman Johanna Primevert said the attacker targeted police guarding the area near the Franklin Roosevelt subway station, at the centre of the avenue popular with tourists.
France has lived under a state of emergency since 2015 and has suffered a spate of Islamist militant attacks that have killed more than 230 people in the past two years.
French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve tweeted that his thoughts were with the officers and their colleagues and families.
Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron said he stood in solidarity with law enforcement workers, while Francois Fillon also tweeted a tribute to officers.
Marine le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon made similar statements.
US President Donald Trump said: “It looks like another terrorist attack. What can you say – it never ends. We have to be strong and be vigilant.”
(US President Donald Trump offers his condolences to the people of France following the fatal shooting of a police officer in central Paris. Courtesy of ODN and YouTube)